Strengths: Great frame, nice details, looks like a "high end" bike.
Weaknesses: Heavy and not well dampened fork, rebound is very slow an unadjustable, tires slick when wet to the point of danger.
Wonderful entry level bike, had it for a few months now with regular weeks consisting of 100 miles or more of single track. As parts wear out I've been replacing them, at this point my bike is set up ss for winter. I love this bike and it's worth keeping and upgrading.
Favorite Trail: Blue Marsh single track, central pa
Duration Product Used: 500 miles
Similar Products Used: Santa Cruz chameleon.
Bike Setup: Single speed, hopefully a niner fork soon. Replaced tires with maxxis cross mark tires.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: June 9, 2013
Strengths: Lightweight, smooth ride, and a great value
Weaknesses: Some cheap components, and other parts do not inspire confidence in rougher terrain.
I am mostly a street/light trail rider and I don't think you could ask for a better bike for these conditions. Hard core riders and heavier trail riders will probably need something a bit more high end. The value was great for this bike and for the uses I put it thru on a daily basis couldn't have made it a better purchase. I have had it less than a month and have not had any mechanical problems. I typically ride around 50 miles a week. It is my first 29er, and would recommend for anyone looking for a new bike.
Strengths: Best for street use and riding around town!
Weaknesses: Can't really handle off road terrain at all and has fallen apart in about 4 months of riding on some pretty smooth singletrack. Busted spokes, Fork acting up, Gears mess up, Bottom bracket replaced! My fourth bike since riding the last 13 years and the worst. My old 26er HT's took way more of beating and abuse and kept on going.
Bought this bike year ago and hasn't lived up to anything i thought it would do. Basic singletrack and off roading was too much for it to handle. Currently shopping for a new bike (TREK) 29er HT to replace this dud. Never owned a bike that literally lasted not even a year without pouring $$$$$$$ in it to run right. If you buy this bike use it for casual riding and streets.
Bike Setup: Maxxis Ardent 2.25 front and SB8 in the rear. everything else is stock
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: July 14, 2012
Strengths: Awesome "entry level" bike just about everything on it is great for a beginner, and then if you do like mtn biking you really don't need to upgrade much.
Weaknesses: Pedals are not that great, after two months got clip in's and haven't had a single problem since. Fork isn't the greatest but if you decide you like mtn biking you can always replace it.
Awesome entry level 29er. Have been riding it for about a year with no problems. I have taken this on all types of trails, mud, rocky, down hill, hard packed dirt, and it is an awesome bike. No problems. Tires are great to begin with but definitely one of the first things to upgrade if riding in soft or mud trails. The components are entry level but hold up well and I don't plan on replacing them till they break. The fork is so-so, plan on upgrading soon but it gets the job done for me as a beginner. I have the 2011 version with out the hydraulic brakes but a definite plus for the 2012 model. Love the bike definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about getting into mountain biking, price is a little high compared to other entry level bikes but is worth the extra cash and if you know you are going to like mtn biking it will be a great buy.
Strengths: Nice light bike that's fun to ride when you get it right.
Weaknesses: Guys this bike has been giving me problems since the first trail I took it on. I don't even know where to start. We all know the rebounding is off but that's not even a major concern. My major problem which is also a dangerous is that the chain has popped at least once everytime I have rode it. Everytime. Sometimes it is warranted for example when I hit a boulder stickin out of the ground. But other instance I'm just on plan trails an as soon a hit the root of tree or do a wheelie it pops off. Am I missing something? In addition the deraileur popped my tire because I forced to ride the bike back with the piece grinding against my sidewall.
Also the grip is only good on hard ground.
I do like the bike because my old bike was a POS. Can someone help me out here. It seems like no one else is having any problems. do you think that the shocks are why my chain is always popping of? Email me rc668976@Avila.edu
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: July 4, 2012
Strengths: The overall package of the Trail 4 is best in its category. Yes, you can move up to another model for better components, but for me I had to stay within this price range. I have been riding the Trail 4 in Dupont State Forest (WNC) for a little over a month and it holds up very well to rocks, roots, and most dirt and mud (downhill & climbing). Not competition, but I'm riding the same trials that I see a number of riders with full suspension on. The bike, as a number of other reviewers have stated does roll over a lot and if you know when to stand and sit, you can get away with a hardtail through certain advanced trails (your but).
Weaknesses: Yes, the fork is annoying, but I knew that coming into the purchase with any of the bikes of this price range. I was (and am) planning on replacing the fork once I find the right one for the right price. The price for a fork is pricey since the steering tube is a 1.5" dia. not 1 1/8in unless I convert the head set. When talking about the pedals and grips I wouldn't put too much stock in that other than replace them and ride. I really haven't seen great pedals on any of these bikes and I just replaced the stock grips with clamp style Oury and they has helped my hands considerably. I have already gone to clip-less pedals and it makes all the difference riding down a trail that has a number of obstacles to maneuver around including road apples (Dupont is multi use trails, horses). I have no complaints with the tires as they have seen mud, rocks, sand, and loose grave; a tire can go through only so much before you get a tire only certain applications.
I was wanting to get another Gary Fisher as that was the last MTB I purchased in the late 90's, but was disappointed to find he is now just a sticker for Trek. I was looking at the Trek (Marlin), The Specialized (Hardrock), Giant talon 4 (I think), and The KHS (Aguila). The KHS was the only other bike with the best components (hydro brakes) for the price range (under $800). I would have had to go up to $1,000 for the same components with the other bikes, but again I had to stay within my budget. The Specialized felt cheap and the lockout lever fell off during the test ride and I didn't like the feel of the cable brakes or derailleurs. So, it was between the Cannondale and the KHS. I went the Cannondale for the name and the frame. KHS is year or two older company then Trek, and seems like a good company, not as commercial, but the finish and feel of the Trail 4 won me over.
Overall, it was a great purchase to get back into the game. The Cannondale Trial 4 (2012) seemed to look and be set-up like the last Gary Fisher Hardtail 29ers before they became completely Trek (I like that). Yes, there is always better, but I look forward to upgrading!
Strengths: Awesome total package! Nothing else at this price point comes close in my opinion. SAVE rear "suspension" design really makes a difference. Hydraulic brakes are soooo nice!
Weaknesses: At $779, something had to be compromised. On this bike it is the fork (hence the 4 chili rating). It's totally useable as is, but is not up to snuff for really gnarly dropoffs and hits. Some elastamer Fortunately, it's easy to replace when you get the cash! If you're not riding really hard though, the fork is more than fine. Not a huge fan of the stickers on the rims. They look cool, but over time I doubt they'll stay nice. . . Either paint what you want on there or leave them off please Cannondale. The stock grips (slip-ons on mine) produced some hand pain on my usual 10 mile loop, but that's an easy fix and largely a personal choice.
I finally traded in my old Cannondale F500 on this baby and can't believe the difference. Cannondale markets this as their "entry level" 29er but I would contend that "entry level" is a relative term and that this bike is good for anyone except the extreme hard core trail ace who will no doubt be spending way more money anyway. Where the old F500 would rattle my teeth with it's stiff rear section, this bike and it's SAVE rear chainstays flexes nicely and is noticeable in a good way. I grew up riding dirt so moving to the 29" wheel was no biggie. In real tight sections I found that "rear steering" worked well. The bike has held up very well. The groupset shifts clean and crisp for an "entry level" set which is all you can ask any groupset to do. With the abuse I dole out on an MTB (not all intentional), I've never been one to get crazy high end derailleurs anyway. Overall I am impressed and more than pleased with the bike - especially in light of the price. Are there better bikes out there? Certainly, but not at this price!
Strengths: i love this bike ! it is my first bike that i have bought . it is a great starter bike for anyone . the colors are nice .
Weaknesses: the shock is nice to start out with but i would upgrade . the tires i would also upgrade but they are nice to start with .
this is a great starter 29er for anyone . i have not had any problems rolling it over anything . but i would upgrade the shock as soon as my ck will allow me ! i can not say anything bad about this bike . i love mine.
Date Reviewed: April 28, 2012
Strengths: nice frame, low end shifters and derailers work well, brakes work well also given the entry level pricing
Weaknesses: the fork has got to go, no adjustable rebound damping and the rebound is way to fast for the fork, even with preload backed all the way off the fork clangs back after a big hit or falling off a drop, even doing a wheelie gives a clunk from the fork toping out, not very confidence inspiring
if there is any way possible to step up to the Trail SL 29er 3 to get adjustable rebound damping do it, if you just can swing the few hundred bucks then try some other manufacturers to see if they put a fork with rebound damping on it. I'm hoping my LBS will let me trade up as I've only got a few rides on it and just can't stand riding it with this crappy fork....honestly if the fork had rebound damping the bike would be killer for the money, I'd be happy to pay an extra few bucks to have the same component spec and the fork off of the Trail SL 29er 3....
Similar Products Used: I ride a 12 year old Heckler that has a 10 year old rock shock psylo fork that absolutely smokes the cannondales fork....
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: April 26, 2012
Strengths: Lightweight, cool color, good for most riding (2 flaming chills for the bent frame) otherwise I loved it till that time.
Weaknesses: Pedals, tires are only good for dry dirt and horrible on wet anything. My real complaint lies with the frame!
I don't know if I got a bum frame but my left side chain stay bent! I can't even take the blame for the bend. Ive ridden the bike 5 times for about a 5 mile loop of trails. On my last go round, I was slowing for a turn through mud and my rear wheel popped out (presumably from the chain stay bending and throwing off alignment). When I got up and looked at it my chain stay was bent. It is bent on top of the stay, where the tubing goes from circle to oval. The bend goes half way through the tubing and looks like a dent, but there is no nick, scratch or anything. Need less to say I am very disappointed and hope Cannondale stands behind the warranty on this one.
Date Reviewed: April 16, 2012
Strengths: great at most all riding.
Weaknesses: the tires are poor.seat could be softer!
great bike i have over 500. miles on it an no problems. lol other than my tires are worn out.
a Weekend Warrior
from san antonio, texas usa
Date Reviewed: March 24, 2012
Strengths: frame, brakes, most everything on the bike has woked well with the exception of 3 complaints
Weaknesses: rear wheel, pedals, and the slip on grips...
I'm 6'7" 365 lbs bought this bike as my first bike need to get in shape and thought biking would be a great way to start... Was originally going to buy a specialized hardrock but my lbs sugested i get a cannondale that the frame is much stronger than the hardrock. I love my bike but the pedals were way to small for my size 16 feet so got some straightline platforms which are perfect. could never get the slip on grips to stay on so bought some lock on to find out afterwards they were supposed to come with lock ons from the website the told my lbs about it and they told me to contact cannondale, now I find out today from another reveiwer the same lbs replaced his???? My biggest complaint though is the rear wheel, I have broken one spoke and have loosened the spokes a few times, so now I'm without my bike for 3 days because they are going to put a compound in the nipples so they keep from coming loose. hopefully this works so I don't have to spend 400 on a beefier wheel at this moment. I guess for someone my size should save a little more and buy a beafier bike stick with specialized or trek who actually have a 23" frame.
a Weekend Warrior
from San Antonio, TX, USA
Date Reviewed: December 14, 2011
Strengths: Light weight
Matte orange color is classy
Weaknesses: 80mm travel, Most 29ers in this price range have 100mm of travel.
Kenda SB8 are terrible on even slightly moist dirt.
I'm 6'3" 270lbs, and this bike has worked like a dream! It is very light weight for a XL frame. Very fast bike. The bike is beautiful to look at, especially in the Matte Saffron Metallic color in the 2012 line. Components are entry level, but I only put in about 60 miles a week so they will do for now. The Kenda small block 8 tires it comes with are lightening quick on hard pack and pavement, but are useless in even moist soil. I switched out the front tire to a Kenda Nevegal, and very happy with the results. Cannondale's website states that it comes with locking grips, but they are slip on. My LBS switched them out as a warranty issue. Overall I am very pleased with this bike.
Bike Setup: 2012 XL frame. Stock components. Kenda Nevegal front tire, Crank brothers Mallet pedals
a Cross Country Rider
from South Bend, Indiana
Date Reviewed: October 28, 2011
Strengths: Solid frame, light weight, fast.
Decent shifters, derailleurs and brakes.
The Kenda SB8s have great grip on dry hard trails.
Weaknesses: Entry level components, but they are just fine. Fork is makes a clicking noise. But like I said entry level, so I didn't expect much from the fork.
Great bike. I think for the price you can't get a better 29er. It's a great entry into the 29er family and will make you a 29er rider for life! I can't see myself going back to a 26" tire really ever.
For being a hardtail it doesn't really beat you up to bad. But then I'm always standing on the rough sections anyway. Maybe the SAVE micro suspension that makes up the chainstay actually works to some extent? I can't say for sure.
The bike as I have it set up weighs in at 30lbs. Removed the small and large chian rings and run it on the 32 tooth front sprocket only. The 8 cogs on the cassette give me plenty of gears to chose from and I'm not that strong a rider yet. Only been riding since July and on this bike since the beginning of October.
People say there is a learning curve to cornering on a 29er vs. 26. I didn't notice any. I can rail corners on this thing better than I could on my friends borrowed 26" full suspension bike. And the bike keeps it's speed better too! Which is nice. Also handles just fine on the technical stuff, roots and rocks.
The whole bike is very solid. I beat the hell outta this bike on the trails around here and have had no problems. Even crashed a few times. Once was pretty hard and didn't even turn the bars after hitting a tree. A few minor paint nicks here and there from falling in rocks once, other than that still looks like new after a month of hard riding!
If your budget minded like I am, and your looking for a new bike. You really can't go wrong with this one. Gave it 4 chillis overall since the components are entry level. But will be upgraded when they break or wear out. The way things are going, I don't expect I'll be replacing anything anytime soon. Except the pedals are garbage. So they gotta go.
Bike Setup: Mostly stock with Peaty Lock-on grips. Converted to 1x8 drive train.
a Cross Country Rider
from Albuquerque, NM, USA
Date Reviewed: October 15, 2011
Strengths: good frame geometry, excellent smooth welds, wheelset, shifters, nice fork, lockout, whole setup is light
Weaknesses: brakepads work alright, but not great. Pedals are fairly flimsy and don't grip much at all.
Good value, very smooth ride. Fork rebounds quickly and smoothly without bouncing. Do yourself a favor and replace the pedals on day one. The brake pads aren't great, but they're not bad either. The whole setup is fairly light. Cornering feels firm and smooth.
I ride mostly around the city, and this bike handles everything I throw at it: roads, alleys, curbs, stairs, construction sites.
Just picked up a 2013 cannondale trail sl 4 29er. I've been out of the biking scene for quite awhile, I'm just wondering what kind of upgrades would you all do this bike and why.
Things I already know i'm getting
(I want the carbon SAVE seatpost, don't know if it fits this ... Read More »
I'm just looking to see which fork you guys went for. We all know that the fork that comes stock on our Cannondale Trail SL 29er 4 isn't the greatest for us. So I'm curious to what you went with and how it looks on your bike. Thx!Read More »
Hi guys so I am going to look at a Cannondale Trail SL 29er 4 2012 model later this week as my first bike. It seems to have a decent component set, I am wondering a bit about the Cannondale Helix 3 disc brakes and how good they are so if anyone has any input that would be appreciated and also the fr ... Read More »
After annoying everyone with multiple threads and questions about what bike to get I am happy to say I pulled the trigger on a Cannondale SL 29er 4 in Green. At first I was not crazy about the color but it has really grown on me. I am pumped to get back into Biking again.
If anyone needs any hel ... Read More »
i just tested one and I liked it. It was on sale for $879. It looks like MSRP looks to be $1059. So I don't know if the store miss marked it or what but it seems to be a good deal.
How does this compare to other 29er bikes in ... Read More »